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Four happy college graduates standing in a row. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Posted December 27, 2016 by

10 strategies December college graduates should follow for job search success

 

As 2016 comes to a close many college students have now handed in their final paper, taken the last exam of their collegiate careers and entered the job market. But according to a study of 503 entry-level job seekers by national career matchmaking firm GradStaff, recent college grads seem largely unaware of career opportunities and unsure of how to apply their skills in the workforce.  So what strategies can December college grads put into action now to create results that land a job? Start by following these 10 strategies for success.

1. Develop a strong value proposition: Start by developing a strong value proposition and identifying those important soft and transferrable skills, says Bob LaBombard, CEO of GradStaff, a company that serves as a career matchmaker for recent college graduates, and companies that are looking to fill entry-level jobs.

“These soft skills – such as critical thinking, effective communication, time management and leadership – are in high demand among prospective employers,” says LaBombard. “Grads should consider how and where they’ve applied these skills during college, whether in classes or extracurricular activities, or in non-professional jobs, including restaurant and retail service positions.”

2. Sell what you want to do next: Next, be prepared to talk about what it is you want to do now that you are graduated.  Everyone that you know, run into, or talk to, is going to congratulate you on graduating, then ask “what’s next?” or “what do you want to do now?” The “I’ll take anything” approach is not a good option, says Kathleen I. Powell, Associate Vice President for Career Development at The College of William & Mary, and President, National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). Case in point, if you tell someone you’ll take anything, it’s hard for that person to find “anything.”

But…

“If you tell someone you’re interested in arts management, accounting, psychology, now you’ve given that person an area to focus on and they can start thinking of contacts in their networks,” says Powell.

3. Casual conversations can lead to opportunities: Don’t blow off those casual conversations with friends, family members – that wacky uncle just may be well-connected in an industry where you want to work and be able to point you to a job opening, a mentor, or someone with whom you can set up an informational interview. Members of your church, social networks, parents of high school friends, relatives of your significant other, when they ask “what’s next” they are generally interested – so be prepared to effectively sell your excitement of what you want to do next. That’s the only way they can possibly help you, by knowing what you truly want to do.

4. Network, network, network: Because, it really is about networking. Recent ADP employment reports show the bulk of all new job growth – often as much as 70-80 percent in a given month – is driven by small and mid-sized businesses. “These companies often don’t have the resources to recruit on campus, and tend to rely on referrals from employees, clients, vendors and other partners to identify candidates,” says LaBombard. “As a result, personal networking is critical. All entry-level job seekers should seize opportunities to ask parents, teachers, friends, clergy and even former employers for connections in industries of interest, and they should continue engaging with professional associations, alumni groups and others for face-to-face networking opportunities.”

LaBombard offers these additional tips:

(more…)

Posted August 01, 2016 by

4 winning resume tips for recent graduates

Businessman passing document to businesswoman photo by StockUnlimited.com

Photo by StockUnlimited.com

You don’t like getting spam, do you? Well, neither do hiring managers. It may be quick and efficient to upload your resume on popular job sites and send employers the same robo-resume, but hiring managers view these generic, mass mailings as spam. They can spot one-size-fits-all resumes in a nano-second and quickly discard them.

Here are four tips from hiring managers featured in the book, Graduate to a Great Career, on how to create a winning resume:

1. Add a short profile statement and your key selling points at the top “above the fold”

Realize your resume is an ad for branding yourself. Like a newspaper, an ad, or web page, the most important “real estate” is in the top half of your resume. Branding resumes begin with a profile or qualifications statement, a couple of crisp sentences that define your value. A strong profile statement is critical for recent graduates. You don’t have an impressive job title and career history yet, so you’ll need to specify your career focus and value proposition in your profile statement. In fact, many hiring managers told me a big problem with new graduate resumes is it can be hard to determine what entry-level job the new grad is looking for, especially if the grad doesn’t have a career-specific major like accounting or computer science. A profile headline like “Seeking an entry-level positioning” is too generic and doesn’t convey your career path. Remember, it’s your job to convey your career identity, not the hiring manager’s. For example, a recent grad named Erin who was a psychology major pursuing a career in marketing began her profile with the headline, “Aspiring marketing assistant: Psychology grad with pulse on the consumer mindset,” followed by a few bullets outlining her focus, strengths, and marketing credentials through two internships.

2. Expand your skill set to take advantage of new market opportunities

Be willing to take advantage of where the momentum is in the marketplace. During her job search for marketing jobs, Erin, our aspiring marketer mentioned above, noticed big retailers were advertising entry-level jobs and internships in merchandising, an area related to marketing that involves selecting products and evaluating sales performance. She decided to expand her job search and pursue both career paths: merchandising and marketing. Because there were a lot of merchandising internships online, she snagged a three-month, part-time internship at a large global retailer. But Erin needed a different elevator pitch and resume to apply for full-time merchandising jobs, and now with her internship, she had a story to tell. She had a hands-on role in compiling trend and competitive analysis reports, which gave her specific marketable skills. Here is Erin’s new profile statement for her merchandising resume, “Merchandising assistant with strong analytic, merchandising, and marketing skills.” She included new skills such as “completed Excel reports for accurate demand forecasting that resulted in a 10% improvement in accurate buying.” Before long, Erin was offered a merchandising job at a top global retailer.

3. Play to keywords and how the resume robots screen resumes.

The first “person” your resume has to impress is not likely to be a human being but a computer. Due to the volume of resumes that large and medium-sized companies receive, most companies use ATS (applicant tracking systems). Most ATS’s are not kind to new grads since they are programmed to check for a strong keyword match. Since most recent grads have limited experience, they don’t score high on an ATS (Only 25% of resumes make it past the resume robots). If you do have a strong skills match with a job posting, take the time to use the same exact words in your resume so the resume robots pick them out. Your resume can also be discarded if you format it incorrectly. Keep the layout simple with commonly used section titles like profile, work experience, education, etc.

4. Emphasize skills, experience, and results in the “Action + Numbers = Results” format.

Employers now give twice as much importance to specific skills and work experience as academic courses and grades. How do you make your abilities and skills stand out when you’re a new grad with limited work experience? It might take more effort than for an experienced job seeker, but you have more experience and accomplishments than you realize. Make a list of everything you’ve ever accomplished in internships, school projects, volunteer activities, part-time jobs, and the like. Then, follow this formula to create a powerful results bullet:

Action + Numbers = Results

Did [A] + as measured by [N] = with these results [R]

Here are a few examples of how college students and recent grads have created marketable results bullets out of internships and part-time jobs:

• Raised $55,000 in first month calling alumni for university capital
campaign; the top student performer all four weeks.

• As a brand ambassador interning at X Company, challenged to increase
website traffic, wrote ten blog posts that generated over 240 responses,
and helped boost sales.

• Prepared detailed Excel reports and pitches for business development
group at fast-growing technology company that
increased response rate by 15%.

The key to a successful resume and job search is to go for quality over quantity. You need to invest a little more time to create a resume that is right for each job, but it will pay off. Your efforts will be rewarded, and you’ll be on your way to an interview in no time.

Catherine Kaputa, guest writer

Catherine Kaputa, guest writer

Catherine Kaputa is a Personal Brand Strategist, Speaker, and Author of the newly-released book, Graduate to a Great Career: How Smart Students, New Graduates, and Young Professionals Can Launch Brand You. (April 2016. graduatetoagreatcareer.com). She is the author of two best-selling books, You Are a Brand and Breakthrough Branding for entrepreneurs. She is the Founder of SelfBrand (selfbrand.com). Speaking clients include Google, PepsiCo, Microsoft, Intel, Citi, Merck, Northwestern University, New York University, and University of Illinois.

Posted July 20, 2015 by

How to Make your Resume Scream “You Need Me”

The phrase Let Your Results Do The Talking on a cork notice board. A concept for using your successes to move forward in your career or business.

The phrase Let Your Results Do The Talking on a cork notice board. A concept for using your successes to move forward in your career or business. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

To set yourself apart from the pile of resumes that crowd a hiring manager’s desk, it’s important to show what you have been able to accomplish in previous roles. A resume needs to answer the question of “what are you going to do for my company?”. How you answer that is by showing what your successes and accomplishments have been in your previous roles and responsibilities.

Creating an achievements section on the first page of your resume or under each of your previous jobs is a great way to do this. (more…)

Posted September 02, 2014 by

Are You a Recent Graduate Searching Jobs? Don’t be These Kinds of Job Seekers

If you’re a recent graduate searching jobs, make sure you don’t hurt your chances by becoming any of these job seekers shown from an infographic in the following post.

Job searching is difficult at best. And the longer we’re looking for work, the more frustrated – and perhaps desperate – we become. We can rationalize asking before giving. We start talking in cliches instead of clearly stating our value proposition. And somehow, the bad kind of stalking becomes okay…

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Posted August 13, 2014 by

College Students, Want to Expand Your Network in Your Search for Jobs? 6 Tips to Make New Contacts

For college students searching for jobs, expanding their networks could help them find employment.  In order for them to make new contacts, check out these six tips in the following post.

Your personal sphere of influence is the key to a strong career, and a successful job search. So no matter where you stand now: you likely want or need to expand your network. But especially during a job search, there’s a built-in problem: how do you approach someone you want to meet

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Posted July 31, 2014 by

Recent College Graduates, Are You Using LinkedIn to Search for Jobs? Why Your Profiles Should Look Like a Business Plan Instead of a Resume

For recent college graduates searching for jobs through LinkedIn, they should create profiles that are more like a business plan than a resume.  Learn why in the following post.

Does your LinkedIn profile feel more like a resume (focused on the past) or a business plan (focused on the future)? If you answered “resume” consider this question: If you had only a few minutes with a person with whom you may want to build a future business relationship, would you spend more time on your

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Posted July 29, 2014 by

Recent College Graduates, Are You Stuck in Your Searches for Jobs? 6 Ways to Move them Forward

Recent college graduates who believe their searches for jobs are getting nowhere can get them going again in these six ways found in the following post.

There are many things that can trip you up in the job search. They’ll cause you to get frustrated, lose heart, and maybe want to give up. But most are avoidable if you put some forethought and planning into the process.

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Posted July 29, 2014 by

College Graduates, Interested in Jobs as Entrepreneurs but Don’t Know Where to Start? What You Should Do

College graduates who work on jobs where they’re not satisfied for one reason or another may feel at some point that it’s time for a change, say as entrepreneurs.  If grads are looking to go into business for themselves, the following post has advice on where they should start.

Are you “over” your 9-to-5? If you’re sick of going into the office every day and feeling totally uninspired as you sit in your cubicle working hard to grow someone else’s business, the entrepreneurial lifestyle might be a better fit for you. As an entrepreneur, you can set your own hours and

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Posted July 24, 2014 by

Preparing to Interview for an Entry Level Job? 3 Things You Should Know

Before you go in to interview for an entry level job, the following post shares three things you should know as preparation for this meeting.

Did your last interview go something like this…:

Interviewer: [Blah blah blah, raised voice at the end to emphasize that it’s a question.]

You: [Talk for a minute or two, showing off your skills through stories about your past experiences.]

Interviewer: [Blah blah blah, raised voice at the end to emphasize that it’s a question.]

You: [Talk for a minute or two, showing off your skills through stories about your past experiences.]

… and so on for about an hour? Now, obviously the interviewer didn’t sound like the adults in Charlie Brown to you, and you answered their questions without fumbling because you’ve been practicing the answers.

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Posted July 17, 2014 by

Searching for Jobs, College Graduates? 10 Ways to Get Your Network Involved

When searching for jobs, college graduates should engage their networks.  How you ask?  Learn 10 ways to do so in the following post.

Quite some time ago, on my marketing blog called Fix, Build And Drive, I shared the math equation you see to the right. I referred to it as the “formula for growing, and leveraging, a professional network.” Contributed by some of my favorite guest bloggers, here are 12 powerful ways to engage your personal

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